Sunday, 5 March 2017

Letters from an Artist during World War One

There were great remonstrations at the one hundredth anniversary of the start of World War One, yet in recent months things have quietened down. Perhaps we shouldn't forget so quickly (as is the symptom of modern life where it's 'come-day go-day' too easily).

The great artist Claude Monet lost his son in World War One.  Extracts of Monet's letters are available over the period of his working life. This one from October 1917:

'To Gustave Geffroy,

Having come to Paris for Degas's funeral I was hoping to see you. I had also hoped you come here with your friend Barbier, but I've been working so hard that I'm exhausted and having just resumed the enormous task in the studio, I feel I won't be able to do without a week's rest, so I'm off to see the sea.  I've just let Monsieur Barbier know, thought it's merely a postponement. Could you kindly tell me what happened to the painting sent to Madame Poisson for the benefit of the blind; she did write to me but absorbed in my work as I was, I don't remember what she said and I've mislaid the letter. If the painting didn't find a buyer for the price that was settled on, I wouldn't want it to go to public auction and be sold off at a low price to some dealer; I'd prefer to have it back and hand over as large a sum of money as I'm able.

Claude Monet.'

Even in the midst of a war, an artist has to be business minded and practical. Perhaps a stabilising distraction.

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